Friday, January 29, 2010

Midnight Marine Biology

I am so glad that Syndi finds out about cool stuff that we can tag along for. She found out that the lowest tides were occurring at night. We had been talking about going to the beach find anything belonging to the Mollusk Phylum. So we decided to take advantage of the best time to look at go at night! Syndi and Ben came and picked us up at 8:30P.M. to drive a half and hour away and look on a rocky beach for Bivalves (anything with 2 shells). We were fortunate that we found clams (with it's siphon sticking out of the mud).
When we got to the beach we were not able to drive all the way down since the park closes at dusk and it was past dusk. Several of the children were concerned that the van was going to be towed or impounded or broken into.... the other child was excited with the possibility that we might get to spend the night!

We found what I believe are anemones that are closed up and hanging off the rocks due to the tide being out.
Taylor was in this position most of the time we were there. I love the excitement and definitely go a workout running back and forth taking pictures of the different creatures that they found. Taylor caught a sculpin, hermit crab, gunnel, hooded nudibranch, several small shrimp, and a tiny sea star.
We loved all the limpets and were even able to get a few off of the rocks for closer examination. Did you know they always return to the exact same spot every night? I guess you could say they have a specific address.
We were successful in our search for gastropods. A gastropod literally means 'stomach foot' and the univalves comprise are the most abundant in the mollusk family. We found many limpets, and snails and hermit crabs. We even saw the trail they left behind as they moved around.

You can see the tracks behind this giant sea star! A few minutes after we found him he was covered by the incoming tide.

Before we started studying Marine Biology I had never even heard of a Nudibranch much less seen one or know a Hooded Nudibranch existed, now I see them all the time! A nudibranch is a gastropod with no shell. It was fascinating to watch them swim in the tide pools where they were not at the mercy of the waves. In the above photo you can see the eel grass, hooded nudibranch, and several creatures on the eel grass, I believe it is a limpet.
Pretty good photography for no light, and a flash reflecting off the water.

Look at the size of this Chiton! it has a plated shell instead of a 'china hat' like the limpet.

Of course Aaron and Taylor had to find something to climb! I drew the line at the sheer rock cliff they tried to climb in the dark with no safety gear. While it might look like it was cold, we were actually hot. We all took off our coats and enjoyed an unseasonably warm January night with a full moon to light our adventures. I wish I could have captured the serenity and beauty that was around us, but we will have to settle with fond memories.
Our time went way too quickly and we headed back to the van that was still there, refilled hot cocoa mugs and ate delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies that Syndi brought! We were home safe and warm in bed a little after midnight. It was so much fun and another benefit of homeschooling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I repeat. I want to come live near ya'll. Not only do you have cool animals easily available for the taking, but you go on the hunt at cool times.